Making the Grades
Nick Park's hysterical trilogy The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit, introduces us to the lovable clay animated characters of Wallace, an inept British inventor and his intelligent canine companion Gromit.
In A Grand Day Out, the pair is trying to decide where to spend their next vacation. After finding the fridge empty of his favorite snack, Wallace looks out into the starry night and is struck with the solution to both problems: "Everyone knows the moon's made of cheese." With the completion of their cozy homemade rocket (built in the basement), dog and master blast off for a holiday of picnicking on the moon. The plot gets out of this world when Wallace unwittingly activates a coin-operated machine that polices the lunar landscape.
Episode Two finds Wallace falling into unexpected peril with The Wrong Trousers. On the same day Gromit is given ex-NASA Techno-Trousers for his birthday (to assist his daily walkies), Wallace rents out a room for extra income. After an intense Hitchcock gaze from the new penguin boarder, Gromit not only finds his room and radio commandeered, but also his mechanical pants. Discovering the penguin has sinister plans, Gromit realizes he is the only pup that can save Wallace--and get himself out of the doghouse.
In the final feature, A Close Shave, the newspaper headlines read "Wool Shortage," and "More Sheep Rustling." As coincidence has it, a small lamb escapes a truck, enters the flat of our two heroes, and begins to eat them out of house and home. More than romance is in the air when the mysterious beauty Wendolin (Wallace-ish features donned with wig and blue eye-shadow) hires the pair to clean her wool shop's front windows. Things go from b-a-a-a-a-d to worse after her dog Preston steals Wallace's latest invention (a Knit-O-Matic machine), and frames Gromit for the recent sheep disappearances.
The brilliant talent of Nick Park and team evolves before our eyes as each short film improves upon the last. Filled with visual gags and witty humor, the stop action animation turns clay into a masterpiece of silly sculptures in motion.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Incredible Adventures Of Wallace & Gromit.
The only concern families may have with this series is the violent depictions. Does the unrealistic environment of clay animation make the violence less terrifying?
Nick Park and his team do some incredible animation work (the soap bubbles in A Close Shave for instance), and these short films have won numerous awards including Oscars for Best Short Film - Animated, and the British Academy Award for Best Animated Film The DVD version of The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit offers some insight on this art form.